Back in 2021, something unusual started happening at CNC Motors, an exotic car dealership with a good reputation outside of Los Angeles. Dozens of individuals who had consigned their vehicles with the dealer reported their cars were sold without their knowledge, and they had received no compensation. We did a full report on what was happening when the entire situation was still unfolding a few years ago, and now everything has caught up to the dealer's owner, Clayton Thom.
On November 1, California Attorney General Rob Bonta charged Thom with 37 counts of grand theft and one count of elder theft, as well as 13 counts of tax fraud shared with his business manager, Valerie Tanaka. The Attorney General's office says Thom "was allegedly involved in the theft of over $4 million from 35 victims," and also "[defrauded] the State of California of more than $4 million in taxes."
CNC Motors entered the public eye in a big way after several of the vehicles it had for sale were featured in videos by YouTuber Doug DeMuro, who said he started hearing about the rumors of something fishy going on soon after he effectively ended his association with the dealer. "At some point during COVID, my closest contacts stopped working there, so I didn't really have anyone to reach out to about coming up (in retrospect, this was probably red flag number one)," DeMuro wrote on Reddit in March of 2021. "They also started running out of cars for me to film, as they mainly had new-ish used exotics and I had done most of that stuff. Then I started hearing some of these rumors..."
According to the AG's office, Thom's alleged scheme was relatively straightforward. He reportedly encouraged people to put expensive vehicles on consignment at CNC and sometimes leave their vehicles' titles at the dealership. If the car sold, he told owners they would be paid within 20 days. Except "Thom did not pay the victims," per a release from Bonta's office. "In many cases, he also used these consigned vehicles to settle his debts and to obtain loans." He likewise allegedly "did not endorse, date, and deliver the certificates of ownership and registration, or in some cases, delivered forged titles" to customers who had purchased consigned cars.
Several interviews of alleged victims by the YouTube channel Normal Guy Supercar brought the situation to a more mainstream audience, and shortly after the DMV opened an investigation into the matter, assisted by local police. It appears that the investigation has finally ended.
Thom and his associate Tanaka were arrested on October 30. According to the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, Tanaka was released the very next day. Thom was released today, November 8, from West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga after posting $8.7 million bail. According to The Daily Bulletin, both have pleaded not guilty to their respective charges.
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